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ICYMI–Quarterbin 33: Goodwin, Infantino, and Star Wars, Oh My

Image2In Case You Missed It, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am a huge fan of old things—old music, old stories, old whiskey.

AHEM.

Imagine my glee in finding a classic Star Wars Marvel comic from 1979 made by two giants—Archie Goodwin and Carmine Infantino! Follow me to Gaming Rebellion as I ask the question “Whatever Happened to Jabba the Hutt?”

Hello, Internet! To any of you who may have followed my column over at Ideal Comics, it is no surprise that I have a lot of comics. A lot. Now, I wouldn’t say I have an excessive amount or anything, but I do own several file cabinets whose only purpose is to hold comics–five of them, in fact.

Time was that I had all my books bagged and boarded and sorted by title and publication date; and all the good stuff Gen-X-nerds were supposed to do. In my mid-20’s I got just a little bit prosperous, and signed up for a comic subscription service, then I got busy and then I got poor again; and before you could say “limited edition, foil-embossed cover” I had a problem.

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Extra! Extra! Ideal Comics News for you!

20090728_LL_14thSt_Newsboy-039Hello, Internet!  We here at the Scottsbluff offices of Ideal Comics are fresh from the floor of the Cheyenne Comic Con. It was a real great time as we spent three days talking about comics and handing our free Ideal Comics coloring books. Free, you ask? Yep, super free. Because that is how we roll.

We decided on an experiment: mini-coloring book of eight pages featuring brand-new adventures of our Golden Age stalwarts Al Djinn and Night Terror–complete ‘Golden Age’ style stories in eight pictures.

We had a lot of great feedback on both the coloring books and the company as a whole, and it really made us take a step back and reassess our position. Since we released our first anthology Zing Comics #1 in 2007, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Life has moved on, and we have just been bobbing along. Well, this summer going to be the Summer of Ideal Comics. We have plans to redouble our efforts to finish the long awaited Zing Comics #2 as well as finish the Special Edition of Zing Comics #1 (and digital editions of both). As things move on with these projects, we have a few more projects to announce in coming months, so stay tuned.

But with every step forward you run the risk of loss. We have decided to change our update schedule for our web-comic Forces of Good and Evil from twice weekly to every Friday. We are super pleased with the relaunch, and love what Rolf Gerdau has been faithfully bringing to the table; but we also don’t want to lose quality as we press toward this mark!

We are greatly excited, and hope you will take this journey with us!

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“What Home Means to Me: Home is Gratitude” by Gerdau

What Home Means to Me_Gerdau

Our own Rolf Gerdau recently took first place in a local art contest with this info comic. A neat and insightful piece, Rolf uses an almost whimsy parallelism to discuss the very serious ideas of home, contentment, and satisfaction in frank but inclusive terms. Everyone, rich or poor, is challenged to take a hard look at themselves, their assumptions, and their perceptions of those around them. We are proud to showcase it here, and you can read more about the piece and the contest here. And be sure to follow Rolf’s work over at the Forces of Good and Evil!

(Comic/Artwork is the property of Cirrus House, Inc. Used with permission)

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When I think of Ideal Comics by DELW

When I think of Ideal Comics, I think of two words: Genuine and Inspiring. Ideal’s founders, Chris and Rhys, are true fans of fiction and it shows. I have always seen the pair as an invaluable and willing resource for all things comic/sci-fi/nerd related. Their passion for world/character building goes far beyond merely knowing the minutiae Image1aof any given comic book. It permeates their dedication to creating their own living breathing fictional universe, “Escher’s World.” For every character of theirs you see or read you can bet there is a mile’s worth of backstory. No matter how big or small, whether it is a throwaway gag or an entire series, every character has a history, every event has a purpose, and every effect has a cause. Chris and Rhys have grown up immersing themselves in the world of fiction and their dedication to creating one of their own definitely shines through every project.

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When I first encountered Ideal Comics, it was through the adventures of Chad Little and Greg Mason in Forces of Good and Evil. The webcomic completely blew my mind! Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to create stories—books, movies, cartoons, comics, whatever. But there always seemed to a mystery in the process. How does an idea go from point A to point B and turn into a completed project? How does your imagination become reality? For me, Ideal Comics revealed that magic. They showed me that all you had to do to see your dreams come true was have a little bit of gumption. When I first saw the simple black and white format of Forces, I remember immediately having the epiphany “Wow! You can create stories without spending millions of dollars or compromising your ideas!” That has been a very important and invaluable lesson that I have always cherished and will always owe to Chris and Rhys.

Darby Ellis Lewis Wilson is a thinker and writer, and co-creator of the Super University for College Kids

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Get Ready For a Heaping Helping of CHAD

Image1Hello, and a happy Friday to you all in Internet land! Today is a day I have anxiously a-waiting for the last 18 months! Yes, today, in the pages of Forces of Good and Evil we begin the Chad Little epic “Plain History.” Join Chad as he roams across the Great and High Plains and westward to uncover the Mysteries his mother only alluded to in “Parent’s Day.”

Chad has really been through a lot since page 1, from self professed villain to something else. It has been a real pleasure for me, and the whole works has taken on twists I never saw coming, and few we had planned all along. More than a month ago, we promised a Chad-ssential reading list, to get you all up to speed before diving into this latest saga!

  • The beginning is always a great place to start, and “Aptitude” is our beginning; but it doesn’t really get to the heart of who Chad is.
  • I’d say that really starts with “Five Stages,” where Chad has to face his predicament straight on.
  • In “Gym Class: Hijinks and Hi-Jacks” we see Chad and his hero school comrades in a class, and see them starting to gel.
  • In the short “24/7 Mart—Trading Punches” Chad and Greg share some quality time, and Chad meets Jagged Princess for the first time. And what a time it is!
  • Blunt Instruments, or The Curious Tale of Chaddington Little” continues the theme, and shows how, not only is Chad accepted by his new friends, but starts to value them. Just a little.
  • Our next stop in “Day in the Life pt 2: Chad Gets a Girl.” In Part 1, the villain students find themselves spending a week displaced and at hero school. In this chapter, Chad and Jagged Princess end up seeing each other in a new light.
  • Jagged Princess is the main focus of “Happy Birthday, All Your Friends Are Here,” but she gets a vital assist from the ever-more heroic Chad.
  • Chad’s new resolve is challenged in “The Hero’s Path.”
  • And we round out out little tour with “Parent’s Day.” It is the eponymous event at the Jack Cole Institute of Super Heroics, and Chad is accompanied by his Parents. But while Chad is snatched away by Jagged Princess, his mother and an old friend stop a rampaging robot; PlainHistorypt1cover3which leaves Chad with a whole series of questions!

And that Brings us up to now, and “Plain History.” The story starts next week with Part 1, and it is a doozy. Before I go, though, I wanted to share this alternate cover art done by Rolf Gerdau. Look forward to more art from this notable local talent, and Happy Reading!

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Celebrate!

2016-01-03 The Other Lenny CoverWelcome Back, Internet. It has been too long, but the real world has sadly interfered with my best of intentions. So it was last week that I meant to get this written and posted and celebrated. After all, last week was sort of a big deal here on the IC homestead. It was ten years ago—3rd January 2006—that we published the first page of Forces of Good and Evil. To me, that made last Sunday a big deal—for a decade we have been telling stories about these crazy high-schoolers.

When we started, it was just Chris and me, and it was just a vehicle to introduce people to our universe—a place were super heroes ended WW2, where alien technology had given us unlimited energy, and where the US Department of Education trained super -heroes and -villains! That first story was crude and rough and kinda ugly, but it will always have a special place in my heart. In the left ventricle.

Sunday last was a big deal for me for another reason, too. It was the launch of a new story, restarting Forces after a year long hiatus (for those of you who wonder what ever happened to Buckskin Boone— don’t fret. That tale will be finished soon!) Leading the charge on this new six pager, is our new fill-in artist, Taliesin Reese. A young fella with a lot of talent, it has been a real joy working with him; and page three of his debut story posted today.

Chris already wrote a little about this on drop day, but this is mine! “Meanwhile…The Other Lenny” focuses on two of our background characters. Lenny was assigned as Greg’s henchman way back in “The Most Evil Villain of all Time, Ever” (specifically here).
The Anthrax sprung out of a cheap joke, but a nod to The Muppet Movie, that we stuck into “Disco Fever.” He and Lenny both returned in “Day in the Life, Pt 1,” but The Anthrax really has a moment to shine in “Demon’s Diary,” if I do say so. But this, this story is Lenny’s moment.

Anyway, that was my trip through the past and looking into the future. I hope you all enjoyed it, and Happy Reading!

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It’s a Winter Wonderland!

IClogo_2A test1dWelcome Internet, and Happy Hanukkah. This is the part of the blog where I normally welcome people to Quarterbin Follies. Not so today. In fact, I will be putting Quarterbin Follies on hold here on idealcomics.net throughout rest of the year. But wait, you might say, where will I go to read about all kinds of old comics. Well, you may want to check out Gaming Rebellion (just saying); but here on Ideal we will be talking about new comics. OUR new comics.

2016-01-04 DO I EVEN KNOW YOUThat’s right kids, Ideal Comics is going back in the business of making new, weekly web-comics. Now, I know it’s been almost a year since any Forces goodness has eeked out. And I’m not going to lie, that bums me out, too; but take heart gentle readers, for we have got some dynamite stuff coming up. Throughout the month of December, we here at the Ideal Comics editorial will be highlighting some of our favorite Forces stories. Plus, we will also be giving you a Chad-centric reading list to get you up to speed for next Forces epic. See, we have been working in the shadows for months; and the fun all starts on our 10 year anniversary, January third! Then we will be launching a new Forces story featuring the art of Taliesin Reese. This is going to be a quick six page story, a little side rail into our Forces Of Good And Evil universe; and it is set during the “National Villainy“, our last long-form epic!

Image1Coming up after that is the first chapter in our Chad Little Extravaganza “Plain History”. Spinning out of the events of “Parent’s Day”, we will have the chance to follow Chad as he tracks down his mother’s big secret in this (graphic) novel length story! Chapter one will feature the art of another Ideal Comics new-comer of Rolf Gerdau based on the script by yours truly. Look for fun and exciting things coming up here, let me tell you!

All in all, good things are coming your way; and for all you Ideal Comics faithful, we thank you for your continued readership and patronage. We look forward to the coming year, and to providing you with “Everything Great About Comics!”

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Quarterbin Follies #31: Spider-Man says “Happy St Andrew’s Day!”

Image1Hello and welcome to a special St Andrew’s Day edition of Quarterbin Follies! What is St. Andrew’s Day, you ask? Well, it is the feast day in honor of St Andrew, patron saint of the nation of Scotland, and so, I thought I would take this opportunity to look into Charles Vess‘s Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth. But what does this have to do with St Andrew? Not much, but read on!

Charles Vess, you might recognize, is an artist and painter, and frequent collaborator with Neil Gaiman. In fact, it was Vess‘s gorgeous paintings that adorn the graphic version of Stardust (sadly, I only have the picture-less mass-market paperback that was released the year before the film hit theaters, but I digress).

As recounted by Vess himself in the Afterword, Vess suffered a very similar affliction as many of us Yankees—a fascination with the mysterious Highlands of Scotland. Yes, there are many of us under Old Glory’s stripes and starry field that harbor a romance and longing for those foggy and forbidding slopes, and it was in 1983 that Vess took his first trip across the pond. Years went on and Vess found a way to combine his love of the land and people of Scotland with his job as a comics and fantasy illustrator.

In 1990, Vess released Spirits, having written, painted, and even lettered it, and it was a labor of love. The book was published by Marvel as a full glossy, hardcover book, complete with a fancy dust jacket and a $18.95 price tag. Now you might be asking why I am reviewing a $20 comic in a column called “Quarterbin Follies.” Well, I just have to say, “Thanks, Goodwill!” The other more pressing question is what is Spider-Man doing in Scotland?

Image4This is in fact the question posited by the fancy dust jacket. After all, there may not be a comic character more in tune with and tied into New York City than Spider-Man. The book even begins with a beautiful full page in inks and watercolors showcasing ol’ Spidey enraptured with his home-turf. But before long we see our hero and his bride flying across the sea. Mary Jane (and, yes, I am going to ignore “One More Day,” thanks for asking) is the sole inheritor of a bit of farmland in the Highland town of Lochalsh. Mrs. Mary MacLeod left the cottage and bit of acreage to MJ in hopes that is would not be sold off, a fate she had lamented in the letter that accompanied the will.

Before long, Pete and MJ arrive in the scenic and peaceful village; and it isn’t more than two pages before Peter begins complaining that the Highlands are just not New York. I mean, peace and quiet are nice, but what about the noise and danger?! The couple spend a couple of days puttering about the village and in the MacLeod cottage before an evening at the Pub turns very interesting. In over-hearing the town gossip, Peter is surprised to hear tales of fairies and specters across the moors that have more and more folks talking about selling out to a faceless real estate company intent on buying all the land round about the loch and the recently abandoned castle of Duncraig.

You see, this whole village and territory has been presided over for six generations by the scions and Lairds Munro, but of late, disease and misfortune have claimed all but three of the once great house: the Laird Hugh, his nephew Angus Munro and the Hugh’s heir and grandson young Hugh. Several of the townsfolk and the Laird himself attest to seeing the young one snatched away by fairies, just like in some old legend. Not long after, ghosts and faeries sent old Hugh packing to a flat in town, and now he is a sad, broken shell of his former self.

All this sends Peter’s skeptic and curious mind a-whirling, and after his own personal encounter with the spectral nasties, Spider-Man is enlisted by a local weird hag (and I mean that in a literary sense) called Dark Mairi of the Shore to save the land from this threat, which she is adamant has nothing to do with ghost or the Fair Folk below the hills.

Image5In the end, city-boy Parker finds himself at the crossroads of pseudo-science and magic far-far away from his beloved bright lights; and in a modern legend as at home next door to Scottish tales of the Kelpie or of Tam Lin as it is in the middle of Marvel‘s 616 Universe. I previously made mention of Peter’s obvious discomfort in the setting of Highland Scotland, away from his city and from his scientific reasoning. Nevertheless, on the pages of Spirits this complaining does not set the tone for the piece. Rather, the graphic novel as a whole serves as Vess‘s love letter to the Highlands—Peter’s discontent juxtaposing the surrounding and enthralling mystery of timeless places. It was also a treat to see MJ given a role in the victory in a way that honors her own fighter’s spirit and the supportive love she holds for her husband.

These feats Vess completes with a nuanced grace, with the ease of a studied storyteller, and with stunning visuals to make the heart weep. My one complaint with the story is that the denouement is certainly too brief, and too tidily wraps up the handful of loose ends left behind in the climax. Nevertheless, this was a joy to read and to review; and well worth checking out at (almost) any opportunity.

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The Saga of teh_Bast4rd_LeRoi: LymeJournal Post 09 Sep 2005 10:48:09

LymeJournal Logo

 

It always begins the same. New locations new surroundings, but it always starts with white fire. And always, when the flame crackles down, I have no idea where I am. It’s just like some lame ’90’s cartoon–the story of a gamer, trapped on the internet! I never expected it to happen to me, teh_Bast4rd_LeRoi! If I ever find that sonovabitch LOLTroll I’m gonna–

YEAH RITE!

What am I gonna do. He is obviously some kinda leet wizard. And me? Pwned like a n00b.

Feh! Anyway, so since I’ve been stuck down in the|\|etwerx, I have been zapped uncontrollably from place to place like some kinda virtual super-ball! Still I can usually get a clue where I am from signage or signature design elements. If I end up near users, I can usually get information by eaves-dropping or reading over their shoulders, so to speak. Still, this adventure has been rough. It nearly broke me, to be honest. I mean, I didn’t ask for any of this. Can I hack it?

The VillageWell it was just the other day that I found myself in the midst of what seemed to be a village. It was the strangest thing I have ever seen, full of Little cottages of all different kinds. Some were thatched roof Elizabethans with the top floor larger than the bottom. Some were after a Mediterranean style with terracotta roof tiles. There were Colonial buildings and Edwardian period houses, flat topped Middle East and buildings like pagodas–houses of all kinds crammed in clumps and tiny neighborhoods together with shops and carnival games. It was the very idea of a village–a madman’s idea. Over the shops, and many of the houses, there were signs with electric lights flashing and humming. There was animation and neon, and out of place digitized shadows. Light seemed to come from everywhere, and from nowhere – – from over here and over there at the same time.

All up and down the roads, there were robot postmen zipping to and fro. Some walked on two feet, some zipped along on two wheels, and some even floated on magnetic clouds covering along the circuit-board-infused roads. And that’s when I spotted it, Instead of an eagle, these postman were emblazoned with the tuna logo of the Wahoo! Internet Group.

That’s how I knew where I was. I remembered reading an article in Wired about Wahoo! getting rid of traditional mail servers, and moving to a new series of integrated, wet-ware, A.I.-driven compiling machines, to combine the of their web search, custom browser, Email, and social networking apps. I realized, that’s what I’m seeing from the inside. I’m in a Wahoo! Community “Village Server!”

This might be it, I thought. This might be everything I need-How to send a message to the world outside, maybe get some help and get away from this place. I’ll admit, I was panicked. I needed a gleam of hope. I needed a win, after weeks of aimless wandering, of no real contact with others—and after the nonsense in that chat-room, a was desperate to try anything.

I walked toward the mass of buzzing bots, and tried to get their attention. I hoop and holler and danced. About. “Acknowledge me, you tin retards,” I yelled, and more; But I got no response.

I slump to the ground there on the sidewalk, Feeling about as dejected and hopeless as I can ever imagine I remember. Was there even a point to all of this, I asked myself; or was there an internet equivalent to liquor.

In the. Middle of this, I felt a nudge—ah, man! I can feel it starting, another flash. I will try to get back her and finish the story!

LOLTroll 100xLOLTroll (9/9/05 @23:58:09): “And me? Pwned like a n00b.” He’s not wrong.

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Profile1 100xteh_Bast4rd_LeRoi (9/10/05 @12:05:59): Hey! Get off of my LymeJournal, you dillweed! Do you have any idea how hard it was to get back here? I don’t even know how long I will be here before a flash-zap and I am gone; and I am just trying to get word to my fam that I am not dead.

Is he gone?  What a dick.

(collage by Rhys with apologies to Van Gogh, Hopper, and Lee; and thanks to the Rhys boys)

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Quarterbin Follies #30: Madame Xanadu for You!

Image1Hello, Internet, and welcome back. This week, I am going to jump from a title that sounds spooky and was not (two weeks on The Spirit); and on to a book that is actually pretty spooky. If I’d had it all together, I’d have this for Hallowe’en. C’est la vie.

Well, this week’s book begins at the end. That is to say, Madame Xanadu #1 is the first of nothing, but rather, it is the last installment of the ’70’s DC Comics ‘mystery’ strip Doorway to Nightmare. The strip was originally home in a book of the same name, but the title was canned in the infamous DC Implosion, and Xanadu was sent to a new home in The Unexpected. “Doorway to Nightmare” lasted until 1980, and in 1981 DC published Madame Xanadu #1 as their second ever direct market/comic shop exclusive. But that was the end of the “Door Into Nightmare.” Xanadu herself would return in a great many places, but I digress.

Madame Xanadu tales of the time fit a given pattern, and “A Dance for Two Demons” is no exception, here written by Steve Englehart and pencilled by Marshall Rogers. In the Madame’s dark and creepy parlor, on a dark and creepy night, a lost soul has found his way there, looking for some kind of redemption or rescue. It is a down and out druggie named Joe. Hearing a rumor that Xanadu is a witchy-woman, Joe has come looking for a magic potion to help him kick the habit. Madame X tells him there is nothing she can do, that the magic he needs is the power of harnessing his free will through discipline. She sends the lost fellow down the way to a rehab center, instructing him to tell the folks Xanadu sent him.

Image2A few hours later, Madame Xanadu is again visited, this time by a red-headed hayseed– a young gal named Laura with a story to tell. I turns out that back home in the mid-West while visiting her aged aunt, the older woman confided that in her youth she had dabbled in witchcraft–even gotten a hold of an ancient spell-book! Laura had been horrified, but also intrigued, and she admits to sneaking away the leather bound tome to check out in secret. Not long after, Auntie’s house caught fire, and the old gal died. This freaked out Laura, who booked to NYC to meet up with her late aunt’s old friend, the seeming ageless Madame Xanadu. Laura claims she doesn’t really believe in magic, but permits Madame X to do a tarot reading.

Madame Xanadu determines that Laura is on a dangerous path, and will meddle with dark powers she is no match for. This Laura mocks, because, remember, she doesn’t really believe in magic; but when Xanadu asks for the spell-book, Laura spooks and gets up to leave.

On her way out, Laura runs into a returning Joseph. He has bailed from rehab after a few hours because it was just too hard. He is certain magic is the answer, and is more than dissatisfied with Madame Xanadu’s rebuffing. It is just then that Joe and Laura take notice of each other. A deep and enduring notice of each other.

What emerges in the story really are two views of magic. Xanadu represents a passive view, using magic to gain knowledge and for defense only. Laura, who becomes enthralled by the spell-book and the power it offers, uses magic in an active way, willing to use even love and sex to control others and gather puissance to herself. Only when it is almost too late does she realize she has been used by forces greater and darker than she had comprehended.

Image3The book closes out with a sci-fi back-up by J.M. DeMatteis and Brian Boland called “Falling Down to Heaven…” It is a sad and somber tale of war, survival, injustice, loss and forgiveness as an alien and his ailing wife find themselves facing the prospect of dealing with an injured human who has fallen from the sky.

All told, this was a fun, if spooky, read. Perfectly in tune with the DC‘s 1970’s mystery fair. It seems odd to me that this was the first and last issue. I imagine that it’s status as the second direct market DC book (including a full-color center-fold poster of Madame Xanadu by character creator Michael Kaluta) probably means it was published as an experiment that didn’t go so well. But I suppose that is he way things go. For my sake, I’m glad I ran across it and could bring it here, to the “Quarterbin.”

 

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